Up until recently, Graham was a stay at home dad, so he did the bulk of watching the kids, school runs and housework whilst I worked at home. In January, he started a new job, which means he can be out of the house for 14 hours a day. Obviously, having two incomes is great, but it is a lot more difficult for me to juggle looking after the kids and keeping on top of housework and cooking whilst essentially working a full-time job at home. I’m not complaining – I know thousands of women juggle this, but it is quite hard at times.
The past couple of weeks I’ve found it harder than ever, which is really useful when I had just taken on some social media management and some freelance work. Trying to juggle that on top of my own blog was starting to feel like an impossible task, but because it’s my way of earning a living, I HAD to try and find a solution. When I did sit down to do some work on my own blog, I was so knackered that I just couldn’t get my head into gear
I had a moan about it to my friends in our little WhatsApp group about my lack of motivation and how I was struggling to balance it all. They all work from home and have young children so know exactly how I felt. Zara from Mojo Blogs told us all about the Pomodoro technique, and my god, has it changed my life!
Basically, the Pomodoro technique is a time management method developed by a bloke called Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s. It involves using a timer to break down a task into intervals, usually of 25 minutes, separated by 5-minute breaks. After 4 Pomodoro (the working bit), you have a longer break of about 20 minutes.
At first, I was a little bit sceptical, but because I was so desperate to become more productive, I thought I would give it a go and I am so glad I did. It really has made a massive difference to how I’ve worked in the past week, and in other areas of my life.
On a day when Graham was at home – he works four days on, four days off so I try and consolidate my work into those days – I sat down with my to-do list and chose the most important thing I needed to do – some content writing for a client. This is a task I actually really enjoy doing but is quite arduous at times. It’s something that should only take a couple of hours once I’ve done the research, but I often find it takes longer because I end up trying to do 3 other tasks at the same time. I decided that I was going to spend my first round set of Pomodoro’s doing the content writing stuff. I broke it down into 4 chunks – one for each Pomodoro. The timer on the website I used was duly set, my phone was put out of reach so I wasn’t tempted by Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Whatsapp or anything else, and got started.
Occasionally I would glance up to the tab at the top of my screen to see how long I had left and was surprised to see how quickly 25 minutes goes when you’re really focused on a task. I found myself working harder and faster to make sure I got the first chunk of work doing before my first five – minute break – I didn’t want it to carry on over into the next one at all. I then used the five-minute break to get up from my chair and do a housework related task – put a load of washing on, give the bathroom a quick clean, put a few bits of clothes away etc, before settling down for the next 25-minute block.
I was really pleased with how much I managed to get done and how focused I was. It was tempting at first to try and keep working throughout the breaks but that completely defeats the point of using the Pomodoro technique. It also encouraged me to get up and move about more, something which I sometimes forget to do when I am working – and I got some housework done as well so it was a win all round!
I’ve applied the technique to other areas of my life now – for example when I need to get on with some housework, I break it down into chunks and spend 25 minutes doing one task before having a quick mooch on facebook and then carrying on. It makes boring tasks more manageable and means I am getting so much more done.
If anyone wants to have a go at managing their time a little better, I use the Marinara timer website on my laptop and the Pomodoro app on my iPhone.